Are Sunk Costs a Barrier to Entry?
20 Pages Posted: 19 May 2008
Date Written: March 2007
The received wisdom is that sunk costs create a barrier to entry - if entry fails, then the entrant, unable to recover sunk costs, incurs greater losses. In a strategic context where an incumbent may prey on the entrant, sunk entry costs have a countervailing effect: they may effectively commit the entrant to stay in the market. By providing the entrant with commitment power, sunk investments may soften the reactions of incumbents. The net effect may imply that entry is more profitable when sunk costs are greater.
Keywords: Barriers to entry, sunk costs
JEL Classification: L13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation